"The bat flip...is a tiny gesture with outsized meaning"
October 6, 2016 9:03 AM   Subscribe

Baseball's finest bat-flips are performed in South Korea. An in-depth article with animated illustrations. Flipping one's bat after hitting is taboo in MLB but celebrated by Korean fans and players. Each player has his own distinctive style.

The article covers the history of the style and some of the differences between current Korean baseball, Japanese baseball, and North American MLB baseball.

Hong has a couple of explanations for why the bat flip came to be accepted here. First, the person who pioneered the move was Yang Jun-hyuk -- a living legend whose accomplishments legitimized his quirks ["For lack of a better word, he kind of had a f--k-it style."]. Second, Korean players are less likely to hurt one another on the field. "I have friends on all 10 teams," he says.

The atmosphere in the stands at games in Korea is wildly different, as the article describes. Fans let loose and players feed on the energy, even during blowout losses.

But as more players go back and forth between MLB and KBO, there's pressure to reduce the exuberant flips.

(article by Mina Kimes, illustrations by Mickey Duzyj)
posted by LobsterMitten (33 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
 
i was excited for tiny pipistrelle acrobatics but no, a baseball bat, never mind.
posted by poffin boffin at 9:10 AM on October 6, 2016 [8 favorites]


I appreciate the animations in the article, but I wanted to see some actual video. YouTube doesn't disappoint.
posted by howling fantods at 9:10 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Oh wow, as mentioned in the article: Jose Bautista bat flip corn maze in Canada.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 9:17 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


The best part of the videos (South Korean and MLB alike) is the very clear feeling of DAMN that's a home run, no question that the slightly delayed bat flip represents.
posted by chavenet at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2016


Its intriguing to note that the biggest row over bat flips happened between the Toronto Blue Jays and the Texas Ranger's in last year's playoff and they're about to tee it up again
posted by bitdamaged at 9:24 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


In test cricket, it is politely understood that throwing the bat is a prelude to skipping tea and scones.

That's a euphemism for ritual suicide to restore your honour.
posted by adept256 at 9:32 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Not to be too hand-wringy, but this looks like it could potentially be dangerous. Some of these are quite hard and go far, and they do it without looking.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:37 AM on October 6, 2016




baseball is stupid and the tsk-tsking over exuberant bat flipping is exhibit, like, ZZZ. don't @ me, you know i'm right.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:49 AM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


baseball logic: if your team does something good (hit a home run) and enjoys that good thing too much (bat flip, excitement while running bases), then our team will try to severely injure (kill?) the next player on your team

it's like the thing you think to do if you are seven years old
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 9:51 AM on October 6, 2016 [7 favorites]


Yeah, the article addresses exactly that point, and how that mindset doesn't obtain in the KBO, and how it's something MLB should look at -- allowing the atmosphere in the stadium and on the field to be more fun/loose/positive rather than solemn/serious/restrained.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Yeah, any hand-wringing about bat flipping being "unsportsmanlike" looks ridiculous in a sport that retaliates with bean balls. A pitcher who does that should be prosecuted for assault, go to jail, and be banned from baseball for life.
posted by straight at 10:06 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


It's allowed in S. Korea because the sports officials over there don't feel threatened by minorities enjoying themselves too much, like they do over here.
posted by subdee at 10:17 AM on October 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Second, Korean players are less likely to hurt one another on the field. "I have friends on all 10 teams," he says.

This attitude is everything good about sports. If US sports had more of this and less of the whole beat-up-somebody-for-wearing-the-other-team's-gear thing I see routinely up in Boston (usually only at the stadium, to be clear, not in the streets), I might care about sports.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:25 AM on October 6, 2016


beat-up-somebody-for-wearing-the-other-team's-gear thing I see routinely up in Boston

People wear Yankees hats and gear at Fenway all the time. You might get verbally razzed a bit but no one is going to beat you up.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:28 AM on October 6, 2016


I mean, I don't go to games that often, but the one time I did I saw somebody wearing Indians stuff get dragged down and beat on, so...

Plus the attitude of retaliating to minor slights with bean balls that others have described.

American sports culture is just violent as hell.
posted by tobascodagama at 10:32 AM on October 6, 2016


Oh wow, as mentioned in the article: Jose Bautista bat flip corn maze in Canada.

Does it get you pinged with a baseball and punched in the jaw after?
posted by LizBoBiz at 10:33 AM on October 6, 2016


OK I can't find anything about the frog jump bunt the article and graphic note. I know from my little league days, stepping out of the batters box is a big no-no (automatic out) .. So how's that bunt a legal play ?

MLB rules (6.06) have a note (assuming these are rule-interpretations) that specifically call this out, but that note may have been added to address this case (ie before people stuck to the letter - the feet weren't 'on the ground' type of rules lawyering.. )
posted by k5.user at 10:41 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Does it get you pinged with a baseball and punched in the jaw after?

I doubt it. I worked at the Hunter Brothers farm picking corn during the summers I was in high school. Tom and Chip are good people, there won't be any violence :p
posted by HighLife at 11:10 AM on October 6, 2016


A lot of (American) baseball's arcane rules seem to be about appeasing the man that can throw a projectile at your face at 100mph. Hit a home run, which the best players will do once every 4 games or so, and you're expected to keep your head down and trot the bases. Throw a strike out, which the best pitchers do at least once an inning, and screaming and fist pumps are totally acceptable.

Pitchers, especially relief pitchers who might not know which end of the bat to hold, also seem to be the clubhouse lawyers that enforce these unsaid rules. See Papelbon assaulting and choking Bryce Harper for not running out an out at first when Papelbon has never had a major league plate appearance. Or whatever stupid thing Goose Gossage or CJ Nitkowski is trying to legislate from their armchairs in their retirement.

In conclusion, baseball is awesome and would be awesomer if only it weren't for full of them selves pitchers.
posted by thecjm at 11:17 AM on October 6, 2016 [4 favorites]


It's allowed in S. Korea because the sports officials over there don't feel threatened by minorities enjoying themselves too much, like they do over here.

*spittake*
posted by Smedleyman at 11:41 AM on October 6, 2016 [1 favorite]


Throw a strike out, which the best pitchers do at least once an inning, and screaming and fist pumps are totally acceptable.

Pitcher vs Hitters greatly simplifies the dynamic. A lot of the "unwritten rules" only seem to get enforced when it's a Latino player that "needs to be taught a lesson".

Because Jose Fernandez is still near the top of my mind, here's an example.

In a 2013 Atlanta/Miami game, Evan Gattis hit a home run off of Fernandez. He stood at home plate and took a good long look at it going over the fence. Nothing happens.

In the bottom of the inning, Jose Fernandez hits his first career home run. He watches and celebrates it a little, as one might expect to do when you hit your first big league dinger. Brian "Unwritten Rules Police" McCann meets Fernandez at home plate and informs him that "you don't do that", and eventually the benches clear.

This sort of thing happens over and over. White guys make the rules, and decide if somebody is breaking them or not. MLB players are predominantly white, but pitchers even more so, so they make up more of the "unwritten rules".
posted by HighLife at 11:50 AM on October 6, 2016 [13 favorites]


As subdee says, a lot of the angst about bat flips and hitters seems to be backed by racism, and not respect for the game. I mean, benches have cleared because a rookie Cuban pitcher just admired his home run a bit too long then what was deemed acceptable. Even though another rookie, from Texas, did something similar earlier in the game when he hit his 19th home run.

On preview, what HighLife said.
posted by papercrane at 11:55 AM on October 6, 2016 [9 favorites]


Someone should let the graphics department at ESPN know that they accidentally doubled "Jamsil Stadium" in the hero image for that section.

The KBO has all sorts of fun things, like crazy opening pitches, too.
posted by qcubed at 11:59 AM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


Someone should let the graphics department at ESPN know these illustrations are beautiful.
posted by JoeZydeco at 1:09 PM on October 6, 2016 [3 favorites]


It of course mentions Choi Jun-seok's classic foul flip.
posted by edeezy at 1:49 PM on October 6, 2016


It's allowed in S. Korea because the sports officials over there don't feel threatened by minorities enjoying themselves too much, like they do over here.

I didn't see any mention of minorities flipping bats in the article.
posted by ODiV at 3:11 PM on October 6, 2016


I didn't see any mention of minorities flipping bats in the article.

That's the point. If your country is a near-monoculture, there's no need to police the joy and exuberance of minorities under the auspice of "playing the right way."

In fact the article does mention such a divide - the Korean players rebelling against the more regimented Japanese coaches.
posted by thecjm at 5:00 PM on October 6, 2016 [2 favorites]


The illustrations for this article are fantastic.
posted by L.P. Hatecraft at 6:45 PM on October 6, 2016


Right, but the Korean players aren't minorities in their own country...
posted by qcubed at 8:26 PM on October 6, 2016


Right, but the Korean players aren't minorities in their own country...

Which is the point. In the MLB, many of the players who are called out for this kind of exuberance are not white. Any many of the players who police these unwritten rules are white.

We're contrasting the Korean league where these things are accepted with MLB where they are not.
posted by thecjm at 5:45 AM on October 7, 2016 [1 favorite]


I think I'm just misunderstanding what's being said.

> It's allowed in S. Korea because the sports officials over there don't feel threatened by minorities enjoying themselves too much, like they do over here.

> I didn't see any mention of minorities flipping bats in the article.

--

> That's the point. If your country is a near-monoculture, there's no need to police the joy and exuberance of minorities under the auspice of "playing the right way."

> In fact the article does mention such a divide - the Korean players rebelling against the more regimented Japanese coaches.

Back to back it seemed on initial read that there was the suggestion that Koreans were in a similar spot as minorities. Which, of course, doesn't make sense until your later comment re contrasts.
posted by qcubed at 11:25 AM on October 7, 2016


As thecjm says, I was contrasting the all-Korean KBO League where no one feels the need to enforce rules about player enjoyment, with the mixed-race MLB where the 'culture' of politeness is enforced on (mostly) minority players.

Also as thecjm says, it's because S. Korean is a monoculture -- so not any special display of racial sensitivity -- but I left that out of my original comment in pursuit of a snappy one-liner.
posted by subdee at 6:34 PM on October 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


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